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Changes reign in state, Franklin Co. races

May 18, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With the defeats of longtime incumbents Patrick Fleagle and Stephen Maitland in Tuesday's Republican primary, the soon-to-be senior members of Franklin County's delegation to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives - 89th District state Rep. Rob Kauffman and Rep. Mark Keller of the 86th District - are just finishing their freshmen terms.

The primary also marks the probable election of a candidate with a long pedigree and familiar family name in county politics in Todd Rock.

"The first thing is we need to change personnel in Harrisburg (Pa.)," Rock, 42, of Mont Alto, Pa., said Wednesday morning after winning a close battle with Fleagle, beating the nine-term incumbent by 122 votes for the 90th District nomination.

"It looks like the leadership is going to change," Rock said, referring to contests around the state in which big-name incumbents lost primary bids, including Republican state Sen. Robert Jubelirer, whose 30th District includes Fulton County. The Senate president pro tempore, first elected in 1974, fell victim to voter discontent that found its focus in the 2005 pay increase legislators voted themselves.

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Senate Majority Leader David Brightbill, a 24-year veteran, was another member of the leadership to fall to a primary challenger.

"I didn't run for the position just to change the person in the seat," Rock said. After reforming state government from "from the bottom up," he said the other big issue on voters' minds is property tax reform.

"It's been going on for 20 years with no action," Rock said.

Rock won in seven of the dozen municipalities in the 90th District, including Guilford Township, where he outpolled Fleagle 784 to 305 in three precincts and the one Hamilton Township precinct in the district where he tallied 298 votes to Fleagle's 74.

"I believe the message is going to be received loud and clear in Harrisburg," Kauffman said of Tuesday's results. "I knew there was this sentiment all along ... I'm proud I was on the right side of the issues and working for reform."

Kauffman, who voted against the pay raise, was unopposed in his primary and will face Democratic nominee Andrew Alosi in November.

The primary might have ended the careers of Fleagle, first elected in 1988, and Maitland, who has held the 91st District seat since 1992. Together, they had 32 years in the House.

Maitland, whose district is mostly in Adams County, lost to Dan Moul, who owns a real estate renovation business. Moul will face Democratic nominee Patrick L. Naugle, an adjunct instructor at Eastern University, this fall.

The county's House delegation will likely remain all-Republican after the November election - the GOP has a 2-to-1 edge in registration - but it will lose seniority.

Fleagle is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and Maitland recently introduced legislation aimed at helping municipalities in fast-growing counties pay for the costs associated with development.

"With all the growth we're experiencing, our legislative leadership is going to be very important," said Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross, who remarked Tuesday on the loss of seniority.

Rock, a Waynesboro School Board member, comes from a family long associated with local politics. His uncle, Fred Rock, is a former county commissioner whose son, Steve, is a Guilford Township supervisor and whose daughter, Carol Wagaman, is that township's tax collector.

Rock's father, Nelson, is a former Waynesboro School Board member and his uncle, Bob Rock, is a former Mont Alto Borough councilman. Bob Rock's daughter-in-law, Kelly Rock, is a magisterial district judge.

Rock said he will need more than a name to succeed in Harrisburg.

"You're most popular on the day you're elected. So I know where I'm at," he said. "I've got a big responsibility."

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